Apple displaces Samsung on Home Turf with iPhone

The iPhone, available in Korea only through KT Corp. as opposed to all of the nation’s three wireless carriers for Samsung and LG, has sold about 1.6 million units since it went on sale in the country in November 2009. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

For more than a decade, Kim Jung Yeon only bought phones from Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Inc., passing on best sellers made by non-Korean companies such as Motorola Inc.’s Razr. Her loyalty ended with Apple Inc.’s iPhone.

“The iPhone has a cool design and I love the feel and grip of the phone,” said the 37-year-old Web designer in Seoul, who bought the device last year, and enjoys using applications about food recipes. “I don’t see any reason why I should return to LG or Samsung phones again if I buy another smartphone.”

Samsung and LG, the world’s two-largest handset makers after Nokia Oyj, can no longer count on home-field advantage as they play catch up in the fastest-growing segment of the $163 billion global industry.